CD25 (IL-2 receptor α-chain) marks a population of CD4-positive T cells with a suppressor phenotype. These CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells can suppress both effector T cells and antigen-presenting cells and have been identified as a principle regulator of tolerance in experimental transplantation models. In the setting of human liver transplantation, however, little is known about the dynamics of these cells in relation to rejection, tolerance, and immunosuppression. In the current study we determined CD4+CD25+ T cell in blood of liver transplant recipients using flow cytometry and investigated a possible link with immunosuppressive therapies. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) of 27 liver transplant patients (pretransplantation and 12 months posttransplantation) and 16 healthy controls were included. We found that the percentages of CD25+ cells within the CD4 T-cell population was significantly reduced in more than two-thirds of patients 1 year after transplantation. Also the total percentage of CD4-positive T cells declined significantly within this period, making the absolute reduction of regulatory T cells after transplantation even more profound. Comparing PBMC samples of patients and healthy controls revealed an increased percentage of CD4+ T cells in the patients before transplantation, probably related to the chronic liver illness. The reduction in CD4+CD25+ T cells after transplantation was similar for different immunosuppression regiments. All patients, however, received calcineurin inhibitors, suggesting a possible suppressive effect of this therapy on regulatory T-cell levels in peripheral blood. Currently, assays for regulatory T-cell activity are used to further support this hypothesis.,
Transplantation Proceedings
Department of Surgery

Demirkiran, A., Kok, A., Kwekkeboom, J., Metselaar, H., Tilanus, H., & van der Laan, L. (2005). Decrease of CD4+CD25+ T cells in peripheral blood after liver transplantation: Association with immunosuppression. In Transplantation Proceedings (Vol. 37, pp. 1194–1196). doi:10.1016/j.transproceed.2004.12.095